MedCare stays ‘ahead of the game’

Friday, August 24, 2012

GREENSBURG, Pa. – Long before healthcare reform created incentives for hospitals and HME providers to work together, MedCare Equipment Company was doing just that.

In August, MedCare, which is part of the Excela Health System, partnered with St. Clair Hospital in Pittsburgh, the provider’s fourth such agreement since it formed in 2008.

"I don't know if we are ahead of the game but I think we've been fortunate to be able to assess what's happening with health care and what's facing hospitals and health care in general," said John Sphon, MedCare CEO.

MedCare will provide HME and oxygen services to patients discharged from St. Clair, as well as work with the hospital to ensure patients receive the care they need to stay at home.

Beginning in October, as part of healthcare reform, hospitals will be penalized for having high readmission rates for certain patients. Understanding the impact that will have on hospitals and understanding how providers can help them adapt, will be crucial as the healthcare model evolves, says Sphon.

"There's never been that crossover where (HME providers) have positioned themselves to be partners in the care of the patient," he said. "There was a lot of disconnect when the patient left the hospital and the provider didn't enhance the level of care. It's no longer all about the in-patient stay, it's about the total care of the patient." 

St. Clair is an independent hospital that serves more than 400,000 patients. The partnership allows MedCare to extend its reach further into its western Pennsylvania target area. The provider now serves a 15-county area through several retail locations and warehouse facilities.

MedCare plans to continue on its path of slow, strategic growth by taking an "aggressive" role in patient care, says Spohn. That's something all providers should be doing, he says.

"We haven't created or added the value, or we haven't measured it to be able to tell our story real well," he said. "We've looked at measuring and communicating our value and looked at the metrics. We have a common platform to work more closely together."